Quick Hits: 5 Books with Awesome Reviews

In Quick Hits, we look through our stacks to bring you books that, when they were published, elicited a lot of reaction and praise. Our selections will include books published this year, last year, or any year. They will be from any genre. The best books are timeless, and they deserve to find readers whenever and wherever.

**

The Dark, by Claire Mulligan

Genre: Fiction/Mystery

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

What It's About

In the deep of winter 1893, a briskly practical physician named Mrs. Mellon arrives at a New York tenement and takes up her duty to care for the aged, the indigent and the dying. Her patient in the garret, she decides, fits all three categories nicely—that is, before she realizes she is in the presence of a most unusual lost soul: the charismatic Maggie Fox.

Part mystery, part ghost story, part riveting historical fiction, The Dark ushers the reader into the shadowy border between longing and belief as it unfolds the incredible story of the famous and controversial Fox Sisters, Maggie, Katie, and Leah. In their heyday, the sisters purported to communicate with ghosts and inspired the Spiritualist Movement, a quasi-religion complete with mediums and séances and millions of followers.

Now only Maggie is left alive, and Mrs. Mellon is her lifeline to the world. Soon, with Mrs. Mellon's gentle prompting, the wry, black-witted, ever-ambivalent Maggie is revealing her family's secrets. But is Mrs. Mellon her confessor, her saviour, her interrogator—or the last person upon whom Maggie is working her finely honed art?

What People Say

"Claire Mulligan's latest novel, The Dark, is that rare animal, scarcely seen: a story so compelling it feels destined for bestseller-dom, yet rendered in a style that brings to mind the ever-vivid, perspicacious (and hilarious) Flannery O'Connor. Style meet content; content meet style—Mulligan's novel has it all."—The Globe and Mail

**

Love Letters of the Angels of Death, by Jennifer Quist

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Linda Leith Publishing

What It's About

A breathtaking literary debut, Love Letters of the Angels of Death begins as a young couple discover the remains of his mother in her mobile home. The rest of the family fall back, leaving them to reckon with the messy, unexpected death. By the time the burial is over, they understand this will always be their role: to liaise with death on behalf of people they love. They are living angels of death. All the major events in their lives—births, medical emergencies, a move to a northern boomtown, the theft of a veteran's headstone - are viewed from this ambivalent angle. In this shadowy place, their lives unfold: fleeting moments, ordinary occasions, yet on the brink of otherworldliness. In spare, heart-stopping prose, the transient joys, fears, hopes and heartbreaks of love, marriage, and parenthood are revealed through the lens of the eternal, unfolding within the course of natural life. This is a novel for everyone who has ever been happily married—and for everyone who would like to be.

What People Say

"Jennifer Quist's Love Letters of the Angels of Death is formidable, a woman's portrait of a man's portrait of the woman he loves. It offers all the immersion and propulsion of the best fiction, but is temporally liquid in the way of lyric poetry. How does she do it? Funny, dark, deceptively ambitious. I couldn't put it down, not only because I enjoyed it so much, but because it contained so much I had to know."—Padma Viswanathan, author of The Toss of a Lemon

**

children of air india, by Renée Sarojini Saklikar

Genre: Poetry

Publisher: Nightwood Editions

What It's About

children of air india is a series of elegiac sequences exploring the nature of individual loss, situated within public trauma. The work is animated by a proposition: that violence, both personal and collective, produces continuing sonar, an echolocation that finds us, even when we choose to be unaware or indifferent.

This collection breaks new ground in its approach to the saga that is Canada/Air India, an event and its aftermath that is both over-reported and under-represented in our national psyche.

329 deaths. 82 Children. Canada's worst mass murder. The accused acquitted.
What does it mean to be Canadian and lose someone in Air India Flight 182?

Why does 9/11 resonate more strongly with Canadians than June 23, 1985? The poems in this book search out answers in the "everything/ness and nothing/ness" of an act and its aftermath, revealing a voice that re-defines and re-visions.

Air India never happened. Air India always happens.

What People Say

"One of the most significant books of poetry produced in this place. A place it remakes. The scope of children of air india goes beyond event and into the realm of thought, knowledge, and how we must read and write absences forever present."—Wayde Compton, author of Performance Bond and 49th Parallel Psalm

**

Walls: Travels Along the Barricades, by Marcello di Cintio

Genre: Nonfiction/travel/socio-political

Publisher: Goose Lane Editions

What It's About

In this ambitious blend of travel and reportage, Marcello Di Cintio travels to the world's most disputed edges to meet the people who live alongside the razor wire and answer the question: What does it mean to live against the walls? Di Cintio shares tea with Saharan refugees on the wrong side of Morocco's desert wall. He meets with illegal Punjabi migrants who have circumvented the fencing around the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. He visits fenced-in villages in northeast India, walks Arizona's migrant trails, and travels to Palestinian villages to witness the protests against Israel's security barrier.

From Native American reservations on the US-Mexico border and the "Great Wall of Montreal" to Cyprus's divided capital and the Peace Lines of Belfast, Di Cintio seeks to understand what these structures say about those who build them and how they influence the cultures that they surround. Some walls define "us" from "them" with medieval clarity. Some walls encourage fear or feed hate. Others kill. And every wall inspires its own subversion, whether by the infiltrators who dare to go over, under or around them, or by the artists who transform them.

What People Say

"Most people, on both sides, now ignore the fence. But not Di Cintio. And that's his strength as a writer: he observes and reports tirelessly, then makes powerful and poetic connections between all that he has seen and heard. Walls is a moving and extremely engaging book, a reminder of 'the constant thrum of hope' amid so many man-made obstacles."—Canadian Geographic

**

Nothing Like Love, by Sabrina Ramnanan

Genre: Fiction/humour

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

What It's About

It is 1974 in the town of Chance, Trinidad—home to a colourful cast of cane farmers, rum-drinkers, scandal-mongers . . . and a bright 18-year-old schoolgirl named Vimla Narine. After passing her A-levels with extraordinary results and accepting the coveted teaching post at Saraswati Hindu school, Vimla is caught with the village pundit's son, Krishna Govind. At night. Holding hands. By morning, even the village vagrant has heard the news and the Govinds and Narines find themselves at the heart of Chance's most delicious disgrace since a woman chased her cheating husband from the district with a rolling pin.

Very quickly, Vimla's teaching post is rescinded, her mother goes on strike from everything, her father seeks solace in the rum shop and Vimla is confined to her home. While Vimla waits for Krishna to rescue her, Krishna's father exiles his boy to Tobago with a suitcase of Hindu scriptures and a command: Krishna will become a man of God. It is his duty.

Just when Vimla thinks her fate couldn't be worse, her best friend, Minty, brings word that Krishna has become betrothed to the beautiful Chalisa Shankar. And Chalisa wants to meet Vimla. Together, Vimla and Minty devise a scheme to win Krishna back that involves blackmailing a neighbour, conspiring with Chalisa, secret trysts in cane fields—and unearthing surprising truths that could change Vimla's, Krishna's and Chalisa's lives forever.

What People Say

"Romeo and Juliet has provided inspiration for a multitude of writers. . . . Sabrina Ramnanan, who was born in Toronto to Trinidadian parents, adds laughter, light and spice to her version. . . . [an] exuberant storyline, which Ramnanan imbues with humour and peoples with captivating characters . . . a charming comedic voice."—The Globe and Mail

May 31, 2018
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